Biological characteristics of Central Indian Basin waters during the southern summer
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Phytoplankton biomass, taxonomy, primary productivity, and photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) were studied as part of baseline data collection for prospective nodule mining in the Central Indian Basin during the ORV Sagar Kanya cruise SK-120 in January 1997. The phytoplankton cell counts and chlorophyll a estimates showed low biomass level, suggesting low rates of primary productivity in the region studied. The average chlorophyll a value was 0.775 mg m sup(-3) at surface and 17.75 mg m sup(-2) in the water column. Similarly, average primary productivity at surface was 3.72 mg C m sup(-3) d sup(-1) and was 51.23 mg C m sup(-2) d sup(-1) in column. The chlorophyll a maxima at 50 to 80m was the characteristic feature of the euphotic zones of the area. Average phytoplankton counts at the surface were low (3960 cells=l), compared to those at 25m (6421 cells=l) and 75m (5187 cells=l). At most of the stations mesozooplankton biomass was maximum in the top 50m water column, indicating the importance of grazing in the euphotic zone. Appreciable quantities of mesozooplankton were observed below the euphotic zone, where settlement of chlorophyll a occurs. The low iron concentration in the water and its relationship with the water column productivity were correlated. The results show that waters in the CIB have low productivity in the surface as well as subsurface layers. This is expected to change in this case of a mining discharge in to these layers, possibly locally affecting the existing marine ecosystems. The final impact of such mining activity may remain negligible in the deep sea environment.
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